How Bad Off Is Vista?
A consumer electronics magazine’s Web site is making the stunning
that Microsoft has to rewrite some 60 percent of Vista code before
this puppy is ready for prime time, and that the key problems center around
Media Centre (the publication is from Australia, mate), which explains why the
corporate versions are still on track for this year while consumer revs are
pushed to early next year.
The magazine also claims that the recent Windows business unit reorg is due
to Microsoft scrambling, desperate to right the listing Vista ship. That may
be, but my sense is that the Windows group needed a little spit and polish in
preparation for the retirement of Jim Allchin next year. And Vista beta testers
and upcoming Vista book authors haven’t been sounding any huge alarms,
though they are clear that a lot of work needs to be done over the course of
the spring, summer and fall.
Are you beta testing Vista? Is it in a world of hurt or a world of glory? Write
me at [email protected].
Speaking of the Windows Reorg
up its Windows unit, giving more power to Steven Sinofsky, who formerly
ran the Office team. It seems the real deal here is that Sinofsky was given
this power in last September’s reorg. The news is that Sinofsky is gaining
many of Jim Allchin’s direct reports earlier than originally planned.
Speaking of Product Delays
Sinofsky’s former baby Office has hit a speed bump, as the consumer version
of Office 2007 will
actually ship in 2007 to match the release of the general consumer versions
of Vista. This is a big yawner. As much as consumers might want to put some
new Vista PCs through their paces, I don’t see a huge, pent-up demand
to spend hundreds of dollars for a new spreadsheet and word processor. Besides,
it’ll take a while to figure out how to run Vista. Learning Office 2007
at the same time is guaranteed to make your head explode.
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If Vista Loses, Who Wins?
Many folks think XP is a solid, workman-like OS and that Vista delays are no
big whoop. In fact, the smarter IT folks don’t plan a move to Vista until
Service Pack 1 is out and thoroughly tested. But let’s face it: XP is
a bit long in the tooth and more than a bit boring, despite all the jazzy TV
commercials. In fact, when my teenage daughter asked for a new laptop, I tried
to get her to wait for Vista and muddle along with her 3-year-old, spyware-ridden
Toshiba (yeah, putting off spending a grand may have also been a factor). So
how many dads will postpone their kids’ PCs until Vista makes it over
the software horizon, while much of the Windows momentum will be lost? It could
be a tough holiday for Microsoft (don’t forget that Xbox 360 will have
to face Sony’s PlayStation 3 and maybe a new box from Nintendo).
Microsoft could do clever things, but it could also set precedents the company
will have to live with for years. Here are some ideas from a total marketing
- Microsoft could work with OEMs to ship Vista-ready PCs and offer a free
- Given the Media Center focus of consumer Vista, Microsoft could do some
aggressive tie-ins with widescreen, flat-panel, cable-ready plasma HDTV makers.
- Microsoft could drink from its own well and bundle a free Xbox 360 with
Vista-ready PCs. This is great for Xbox game sales but pretty rough on the
old Xbox P&L.
- The only other thing that could save a Windows holiday season are super
low-priced machines in large supply -- $300 laptops could do the trick.
In the meantime, expect Apple to try and steal some Vista dollars with hot
new iPods and hopefully some cool Macs that we don’t have to drive 100
miles to buy.
What would you do to save the Vista Christmas? Write me at [email protected].
For more on who will rule this holiday season, click here.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.